Tag Archive for Orange County District Attorney

New law keeps dangerous DUI drivers on the road, and sharp-eyed BikinginLA follower helps recover stolen bike

Welcome back.

We made it. Not just through the holidays, which is always a challenge. But through the most difficult year in recent memory. 

So pat yourself on the back, and take a celebratory bike ride to mark your achievement. And if you already did, go out for another one. 

Thanks to John M, Eric B, James V, Steven F, Grace P, John H and everyone else who donated their hard-earned money to the 6th Annual BikinginLA Holiday Fund Drive to help keep SoCal’s best source for bike news and advocacy coming your way every day.

This year’s donations ranged from $5 to $250. I appreciate the smallest donations every bit as much as the largest ones, because I know all too well how hard it can be to give when money is tight.

I am also incredibly humbled and grateful for the kind words that accompanied so many of the donations. It was a struggle just to get through the past year while keeping up with the demands of this site, for a number of reasons.

It means more than I could begin to say to know those efforts are appreciated. And I’ll do my best to live up to all you had to say.

Thank you.

Photo by Raniery Costa Pelissari from Pexels.

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This is why people continue to die on our streets.

The new Orange County DA writes that DUI must have consequences, after a little-noticed new law went into effect promising to wipe DUI convictions off a driver’s record.

Beginning January 1, a new law that makes misdemeanor DUI eligible for diversion changes that. Once diversion is completed, it’s as if the crime never happened – and those prior convictions wash out, despite the fact that state law allows prior DUIs to be pled and proven for up to 10 years.  They can’t be used as a prior – and the families whose lives were shattered by an impaired driver will not get the justice they deserve.

Assembly Bill 3234 does not impose a limit on how many times someone can be given diversion. How many times are we going to give someone a break before they kill someone? And now if they do, we won’t be able to prosecute them as more serious crimes.

Seriously, this could be a disaster.

Our legal system will now be actively working to keep dangerous drivers on the road. And free from consequences for actions that could lead to more deaths on the state’s roadways.

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If you still need proof that registering your bike with Bike Index works, consider this story, complete with a happy ending.

Thanks to a sharp-eyed BikinginLA follower.

https://twitter.com/157/status/1345059924686983170

https://twitter.com/157/status/1345076777073299456

And yes, they did. Resulting in our first recovered bike of the new year.

https://twitter.com/157/status/1345177864975499264

So what are you waiting for, already?

It wouldn’t hurt to get a better bike lock, either.

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Looks like a new sort-of protected bike lane has popped up in Culver City. Although I’d call something with flimsy plastic bendy posts a separated lane, instead.

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This is why LA-based former pro Phil Gaiman should be second in line for cycling sainthood behind Gino Batali. Even if he’s not dead yet.

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Never mind the best. Gravel Bikes California looks at the worst of gravel riding in 2020.

Which somehow seems appropriate for the past year.

Thanks to Zachary Rynew for the heads-up.

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Looks like Georgia Senate candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock is one of us. Although something tells me his opponent Kelly Loeffler isn’t.

But I could be wrong.

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Local

This is who we share the road with. Rebecca Grossman, co-founder of the prestigious Grossman Burn Foundation, has been charged with two counts each of murder and vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence for the hit-and-run deaths of two young brothers who were walking with their parents in a Westlake Village crosswalk. She was released on $2 million bail, pending the results of toxicology tests.

A Reddit user questions the broken, substandard and half gutter bike lane on northbound Sepulveda Blvd north of Mulholland.

Congratulations to Santa Monica on being named a Gold level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. And yes, they deserve it.

 

State

‘Tis the season. The San Diego Chargers of Los Angeles teamed with the Pechanga tribe to give 200 new bicycles and helmets to Southern California kids in need.

 

National

They get it. Business Insider says the US wasn’t ready to handle last year’s pandemic-induced bike boom after a century of leaving bikes behind.

The BBC considers the planned 3,700-mile Great American Rail Trail, which will stretch from DC to the Pacific Ocean near Seattle.

C|net lists their favorite bikes for the coming year.

Las Vegas police are rolling out a specialized bike designed to measure violations of the three-foot passing law to improve safety for people on two wheels. I know the LAPD is aware of the technology, because I told them about it. But apparently, they don’t think it’s worth the effort or the relatively minimal cost. Thanks to Robert Leone for the heads-up. 

An Arizona man was shot by police after a chase when officers tried to make a traffic stop as he was riding his bike, and he allegedly flashed a gun at the pursuing cops.

A Denver bike shop owner is back already at work, just one week after he was released from the ICU following a serious traffic collision,

The New York Times offers tips on how to maintain that new bike you got for the holidays. Or bought for yourself, for that matter.

A New York bike commuter responds to getting run down by a cab driver by advising bicyclists to be loud, and shout when you need to to ensure your safety. Even if the story strangely repeats itself while you’re reading.

The father of a 15-year old boy is considering suing the NYPD, despite an apology from the chief of detectives, after he was wrongly — and publicly — accused of being part of a gang of bike riders that randomly attacked two vehicles on the city’s iconic 5th Avenue last week.

They get it, too. A Philly TV station says protected bike lanes could encourage more bike commuters while reducing congestion.

 

International

London’s tony Kensington neighborhood ripped out a new bidirectional bike lane, after accusing it of causing traffic congestion. So now it’s blocked by parked cars 80% of the time, instead. Let’s be honest — the real cause of traffic congestion is all those cars, not the bike lane.

One of the first casualties of the UK’s ill-advised separation from the European Union turns out to be handmade Brooks saddles, which are now owned and distributed by Italian saddle maker Selle Royal, and as a result, won’t be sold in the UK for the foreseeable future because of Brexit.

Two men have been arrested in connection with a disappearance of a Scottish father after he set out on a bike ride three years ago, and was never seen again.

It must run in the family. British bike scribe and historian Carlton Reid’s 23-year old son decided to pick up his new bike from the Chinese factory and ride it back home to Great Britain. Even if some of the commenters bizarrely insist the ride was faked.

No bias here. Aggressive Berlin bike riders are accused of inducing road rage in drivers and pedestrians. Never mind that people on bicycles make up 18% of the city’s traffic, while getting just 3% of road space.

 

Competitive Cycling

Peloton Magazine tells the groundbreaking story of Shelley Verses, who shattered the gender barrier in pro cycling by becoming the first female team trainer in European cycling, with the late great 7-Eleven team in 1985.

 

Finally…

Who needs a marching band when you’ve got a bike?

Yeah, no.

And Frodo’s creator was one of us.

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Be safe, and stay healthy. And wear a damn mask, already. 

Rally tomorrow demanding justice for Scott Clark; OC triathlete was collateral damage in alleged 2017 road rage case

No Morning Links today, due to the demands of this piece, as well as a few too many emergency potty runs caring for a sick Corgi.

I’ll try to catch up tomorrow with a rare Weekend Links if her belly allows; if not, we’ll be back on Monday with anything we’ve missed.

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When does justice delayed become justice denied?

Apparently, when Orange County investigators drop the ball.

And the DA drops the case.

Bike lawyer Ed Rubinstein forwards a flyer demanding justice for a Laguna Hills father, teacher and triathlete who was killed over two years ago, the result of a road rage incident between two motorists.

Scott Clark, a fifth-grade teacher at Laguna Niguel Elementary School and four-time Ironman triathlete, was training for a race in January, 2017, when he ran into a crosswalk just as two women were arguing as they sped down the road in Laguna Nigel.

One of the women, later identified as Jamie Mulford, allegedly turned right from the left lane in front of the other car, cutting off the driver and forcing her  car into Clark as he crossed the street.

He suffered severe head injuries, and died two weeks later.

Mulford was arrested at the scene for suspicion DUI, but the charge was dropped because investigators failed to test her blood alcohol level for nearly six hours after the crash, by which time she was under the legal limit.

The DA eventually charged Mulford with vehicular homicide in the death of Scott Clark. Yet after numerous delays, the case was dismissed ths year when the DA said they could no longer prove Mulford’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Adding insult to overwhelming injury, Mulford sued Scott Clark’s wife for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress — choosing the two year anniversary of his death to file suit.

It took less than a month to have the case thrown out of court for lack of merit.

Which bring us to tomorrow’s rally calling for justice for Scott Clark.

Supporters of Clark — or anyone who believes in the safety of our streets — is urged to meet at Laguna Nigel City Hall at 10 am Saturday to walk to the crash site at Niguel Road and Alicia Parkway.

I don’t know if Jamie Mulford is guilty.

But I do know Scott Clark’s survivors deserve to have the case put in front of a jury.

And newly elected DA Todd Spitzer owes them that.

Thanks to Ed Rubenstein for the heads-up.

Morning Links: OC driver faces DUI vehicular manslaughter charge, and a long listing of bike academic papers

The Orange County DA’s office may not move fast, but they take traffic crimes seriously.

I’m told they just filed a felony charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence against Michael John Perez in the death of Michael Bastien one year ago today.

Bastien was riding in a Huntington Beach bike lane when he was run down from behind by the car driven by Perez, who was arrested at the scene on suspicion of DUI.

He now faces between four and ten years in state prison upon conviction.

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Great post from the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, as they ditch the usual weekly blog roundup in favor of recent academic papers regarding bicycling. I don’t know about you, but this should keep me reading for the next week, at least.

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Pro cyclist Kris Boeckmans will remain in a medically induced coma for at least a week after crashing hard in the Vuelta.

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Local

The LA Weekly catches up on DTLA’s coming bikeshare program.

Ryan Seacrest really is one of us now. He was sideswiped by a car while riding in the bike lane on San Vicente Blvd and knocked into another cyclist; needless to say, the driver claimed she never saw him. And apparently didn’t care. Sounds like an obvious violation of the three-foot passing law violation, along with a failure to yield.

Over a dozen bike riding firefighters roll through Malibu on their way to Santa Monica on the final leg of a 400 mile fundraising ride from Sausalito.

The Santa Monica Bike Center is looking for an Outreach/Communications Director, as well as a part-time tour guide.

 

State

The California legislature’s second attempt to create a hit-and-run alert system using freeway signs now awaits Governor Brown’s veto pen signature; he vetoed a similar bill last year.

An injured off-road rider was airlifted out of Crystal Cove State Park Sunday evening.

OC cyclists are invited to participate in a roundtable discussion on improving regional bicycling connectivity in the foothills area.

Caught on video: A San Francisco Critical Mass cyclist attacks a car with his U-lock after the driver bumps him when the rider blocks his car while riding on the wrong side of the road. Just Another Cyclist says this shows the time for Critical Mass has passed. Incidents like this only serve to convince the general public we’re all Critical Massholes, since most don’t seem to be able to distinguish the actions of one jerk on a bike from the rest of us.

A former bike messenger recalls the glory days of two-wheeled risk-taking delivery in the Bay Area.

A business group calls for reinstalling a third traffic lane on the undulating Richmond–San Rafael Bridge, which would force bikes into the traffic lane, rather than riding on the shoulder as they can now.

A Vacaville driver is arrested for a hit-and-run that left a bike rider with major injuries; a friend of the victim spotted the damaged truck in the trailer park where she lives.

Bad news from NorCal, as a 16-year old bike rider was killed in Hanford, and a 79-year old man died after being hit by multiple cars in Modesto; most of the drivers in that crash fled the scene.

 

National

Riders in Vancouver WA will soon enjoy the city’s first raised bike lane.

Interesting idea, as Chicago allows developers to buy a new bikeshare station in front of their properties. Something like this could help LA’s nascent system expand faster than planned.

Minnesota Public Radio hosts a discussion on bridging the gap between commuter and recreational cyclists.

It’s the usual argument in Duluth MN, as bicyclists call for a protected bike lane on a major street, while business owners argue against a loss of parking spaces. Because no one on a bike ever spends money, right?

It’s one thing to ride a bike to school; two Connecticut men are written up for riding on one.

There are a lot of good people out there. Rhode Island man replaces a boys mountain bike after it was stolen.

Streetsblog NYC says banning bikes from exiting the bridge to Roosevelt Island isn’t the way to improve safety.

New York cyclists will get their first bus bike racks on a route crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.

Seriously, don’t ride through a construction zone after dark or you might go off a cliff, as one Pennsylvania bike rider learned the hard way.

 

International

Make your plans for the first Gran Fondo in Havana this October, newly accessible to Americans thanks to the recent rapprochement between the US and Cuba.

Alberta cyclists call for an Idaho stop law.

A West London man will serve six months in jail after losing an appeal on his conviction for beating a cyclist with a baseball bat after the rider kicked his car during a dispute.

Dublin considers making bike and car sharing mandatory for all new apartment buildings in the city center.

Paris plans to take ciclovía a step further by banning cars from most of the city’s streets for one day later this month.

Treehugger takes a photographic ride along the new bike and pedestrian bridges of Copenhagen.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews rise up in opposition to a planned bikeshare system in Jerusalem, fearing it will desecrate the Sabbath.

After Christchurch, New Zealand suffered a devastating earthquake, the city used it at an opportunity to return to its roots as a bicycling city.

 

Finally…

Your next bike could be 3D printed and turned into compost when you’re done with it. Nothing like having a few hundred naked bike riders photobomb your wedding photos.

And if you’ve used your bike as a getaway vehicle after successfully robbing five banks, don’t ditch it after the sixth one.

 

Morning Links: OC hit-and-run truck driver guilty; SGV bike rider found beaten to death; get ready for CicLAvia

Looks like the OC DA’s office is on a roll.

In their latest court victory, truck driver Filemon Reynaga was found guilty Thursday in the hit-and-run death of 19-year old Manuel Morales Rodriguez as he rode his bike to work in October, 2013.

Reynaga reportedly drove off after getting out of his truck to look at Rodriguez, leaving him lying unprotected in the street where he was hit by a second vehicle.

It was impossible to tell which one ultimately struck the fatal blow.

Clearly, the jury decided it didn’t matter, convicting Reynaga of felony hit and run causing death and misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. It only took them 90 minutes to reach a verdict.

He now faces up to four well-deserved years in prison.

Thanks to Edward Rubinstein for the heads-up.

Filemon-Reynaga-conviction

 

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A man was found beaten to death next to a bicycle in an unincorporated part of the San Gabriel Valley near West Covina early Thursday morning.

According to KNBC-4, he was identified by his mother as 25-year old Ontario resident Victor Pacheco after she rushed to the scene. Witnesses saw him being chased on his bike by a blue pickup just hours before his body was found in a vacant lot.

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Before you go to CicLAvia this Sunday, take a moment to brush up on these safety tips. Most important, in my experience, is to remember it’s not a race and maintain a safe speed; it’s the differential between fast and slow riders that seems to cause most conflicts. And always look behind you before you change directions, even to just pass another rider.

Get discounts along the route. Oddly, Tito’s Tacos doesn’t seem to be on that list.

As if CicLAvia itself wasn’t reward enough, you can enter to win free prizes including a weekend in Culver City, a Tern foldie and Cirque du Soleil tickets. Or win CicLAvia swag by taking photos at their photo hunt stops.

As a personal aside, you’ll find some of the city’s best coffee at The Conservatory along the CicLAvia route on Washington Blvd in Culver City; tell ‘em I sent you. Not that they know who the hell I am. Update: Margaret reminds us that the Conservatory is closed on Sundays; hopefully, they’ll make an exception just this once.

And just in time for CicLAvia, Walk Bike Burbank is offering free bike tune-ups on Saturday.

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VeloNews provides a nice tongue-in-cheek examination of what it would look like if the NFL was run as badly as pro cycling. And 37-year old Ivan Basso will determine his future in the coming months after recovering from surgery for testicular cancer.

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Local

A Westside resident says there aren’t enough bicyclists on Westwood Blvd to justify bike lanes, and bus-only lanes could move more people through the corridor. Never mind that bike riders are allowed to use bus-only lanes, and there might be more bike riders on the boulevard if they had a safe place to ride.

West Hollywood now has a bike-through coffee and juice window.

Registration is now open for Santa Monica’s Breeze bikeshare system; a trial system will kick off for six weeks next Thursday, while the full system is expected to go into operation in November.

CiclaValley rides the Dominguez Channel bike path, calling it “another path that was constructed as an afterthought in an area that is particularly void of bike infrastructure.”

 

State

An Irvine company is modifying their single-lever brake system to work on children’s bikes; one lever applies the front and rear brakes simultaneously, eliminating the risk of a major endo.

Not even a decorative bike attached to a private Bakersfield community library is safe from the scourge of bike theft.

A San Francisco bicyclist puts his foot down at every stop sign, since the SFPD is now ticketing bike riders — without legal justification — if they don’t, and nearly got run over as a result. Meanwhile, the SF Gate calls the crackdown on scofflaw cyclists a waste of police resources that endangers San Franciscans and incentivizes bad behavior.

When a Tahoe tourist on a rental bike does something stupid, it does not reflect on every other cyclist. When I observe stupid driver tricks, I don’t think it makes every other driver look bad; they usually do that themselves.

 

National

Bike lawyer Bob Mionske examines three-foot passing laws, and the need for police to get with the program, already.

Bicycling looks at the 500-plus pound man who started bicycling cross-country to lose weight and get his wife back; the couple has reunited and she’s now riding along with him.

The Department of DIY strikes again, as a Portland bike rider paints a warning on a hazardous road grate after getting tired of complaining about it for the past eight years; needless to say, the state DOT is not pleased.

A road-raging Kansas cyclist is lucky to get off with just 59 months in prison for shooting a motorist during a dispute; the victim gets just $2,600 of the court-ordered $19,600 restitution, despite losing an eye.

After a high school student in my hometown has his bike stolen, police find it 775 miles away in Abilene TX. And he gets personal return service, as a detective just happened to be driving down with his daughter to visit a Texas university.

Nice story, as people pitch in to help a homeless man biking across the US who cares for every stray dog he finds; the former California resident towed 11 dogs 2,000 miles in his homemade bike trailer.

People are fuming in the Bronx over New Jersey getting New York’s latest bikeshare expansion before they do.

A Virginia cyclist wins a $300,000 settlement after she’s injured when a jogger turned in front of her with no warning.

A writer for Miami’s alt weekly gets tired of the constant wrangling over the rights of cyclists, and spells out what riders can and can’t do under Florida law.

 

International

Writing about Calgary, a columnist says the city’s car culture comes at a steep price. Substituting Los Angeles for Calgary wouldn’t change the story, or the conclusion, one bit.

A Toronto writer says it’s a mixed up world when pedestrians try to punch out bike riders, and suggests the solution is to ban cars from certain streets.

A London group fixes up old bikes to provide transportation to refugees, and teaches women to ride since many weren’t allowed to learn in their old country.

The number of London bike commuters has doubled in the past 10 years.

City Lab looks at how Cambridge became the UK’s model cycling city.

An Aussie cyclist says we need to future-proof our infrastructure to find a balance between cars, bicycles, pedestrians and public transport.

Variety reviews the Hong Kong cycling flick To the Fore, calling it blandly inspiring, but with propulsive, bone-crunching cycling action. Works for me.

 

Finally…

Nine signs you need to ride more. It’s hard enough riding the Pyrenees, Alps and Dolomites back to back; now imagine doing it with one leg.

And evidently, drunk bicycling is a bigger problem than we realize; a new bike lock with a built-in breathalyzer will keep you from unlocking your ride if you’re wasted. Now if they could only make something like that to keep drunk drivers off the road. Thanks to Mike Wilkinson for the link.

 

20-year old OC driver faces 10 years for 2014 DUI death of Dana Point cyclist

Ten years.

That’s what a 20-year old driver is facing for the drunken collateral damage death of a cyclist in April of last year.

Thirty-nine-year old Haitham Gamal was riding south on PCH in Dana Point when Dominic Devin Carratt lost control of his car at high speed, drifting 200 feet through a bend in the road before slamming into Gamal’s bike.

Carratt’s car continued to drag him another 500 feet — nearly twice the length of a football field — before hitting a curb and flipping over. Gamal was pronounced dead at the scene, simply because he was in the way.

Carratt and his passenger were taken to a hospital with slight injuries, where he was found to have a blood alcohol level of .15.

Normally, that would be almost twice the legal limit. But as an under-aged driver, the legal limit in this case would be zero.

According to the Orange County District Attorney’s office, Carratt will be arraigned today on felony counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, and driving with a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit causing bodily injury, along with a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury.

I’d call death great bodily injury, all right.

Unlike the LA County DA’s office, the OC DA tends to take cases like this seriously, and is more than willing to throw the book at killer drivers. And they seldom bargain away a case just to get a conviction.

That may be a product of a lighter case load, or more jail space to house convicted drivers.

Or maybe they just give a damn. And take traffic crime seriously.

Thanks to attorney and cyclist Ed Rubinstein for the heads-up.

 

Dominic-Carratt-arraignment

 

Breaking news: no sentencing in Eric Billings case today; driver found with narcotic drug behind bars

So much for that.

Word broke yesterday that the driver convicted in the death of cyclist Eric Billings in Mission Viejo two years ago was found with a prescription narcotic in her jail cell.

According to the Orange County DA’s office, former OC lawyer Hasti Fahkrai-Bayrooti was found in possession of Clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizures and panic disorder, on May 13th as she was being held awaiting sentencing.

Something that was supposed to happen today.

However, a source reports from the courtroom that her sentencing has been delayed yet again, much to the distress of the victim’s family.

Apparently, her extremely savvy criminal defense team doesn’t work weekends. Robert Weinberg told Judge Jones that Hasti’s psychiatric evaluation only reached his office last Friday afternoon, and he hasn’t had time to review it. SINCE FRIDAY. In his defense (cough), it’s an extremely lengthy report.

The judge is unwilling to allow for any technicality that would give Hasti any possibility of appeal whatsoever, so he granted the motion to allow the delay. The defense will naturally try to incorporate any pertinent information from the psych eval into his sentencing brief. (Note: The Deputy DA managed to create a very persuasive 25-page brief on the People’s behalf just fine, without any report from the probation department.)

One of Eric Billings’ daughters who’d been unable to speak at the first attempt at sentencing was allowed to speak this morning. She vented, and clearly the judge agrees that she is absolutely right that victims have a right to a fair and speedy trial.

In the hallway prior to the hearing, she was demanding to know who Hasti’s “pharmacist” is, because she wants him investigated, and his license revoked. (When the first witness to approach Hasti after the collision asked if there was anybody she could call, she mumbled something about her pharmacist, and tried to place a call on her cell. Also, her blood drawn more than four hours after the collision indicated Alprazolam [Ed. note: the generic form of Xanax] in an amount that is usually fatal.)

At one point, Hasti attempted, in her meek voice, to speak to the judge, but her lawyer instantly spun around in alarm and shushed her.

The next attempt at sentencing will be June 19th. The DA had a prelim set for that same morning, but rescheduled it because the Billings family has suffered enough during this delay.

Oh yeah, and naturally Hasti pleaded not guilty to the new charge. And she’s not retaining her extremely savvy criminal defense team this time; instead, she has a public defender.

Fakhrai-Bayrooti had entered an unexpected guilty plea last March to a single felony count of vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated for running Billings down from behind as he rode his beach cruiser in the bike lane on Santa Margarita Parkway two years earlier. Billings, described by friends as a loving father and devout Mormon, died at the scene.

She faces up to four years in prison once she’s finally sentenced

In addition to all the other breaking news in this case, the California State Bar suspended the immigration attorney’s license to practice law earlier this week. Chances are that suspension will become permanent following her sentencing, especially in light of the additional drug charge.

Let’s hope the Billings family gets the justice they deserve. And that Fakhrai-Bayrooti gets the help she so desperately seems to need while she’s behind bars.

And that she’s never allowed behind the wheel again.

 

Update: Guilty plea in case of fallen OC cyclist Joseph Robinson

A source calling from the courthouse in Orange County has just reported that the driver who killed 21-year old Jax Bicycle Center employee Joseph Robinson has pleaded guilty to hit-and-run and drug charges, and will face significant jail time.

Sommer Niclole Gonzales, just 18 at the time of the collision, was sentenced to spend the next 11 years of her life behind bars after she admitted responsibility and waived her right to appeal.

Robinson was taking the long way to work on a sunny February morning last year when he was run down from behind while riding in the bike lane on Santiago Canyon Road.

He was hit with enough force to knock him and his bike completely off the roadway; his body was only discovered because an off-duty fire captain spotted a car with a shattered windshield speeding in the opposite direction, then saw a single shoe lying on the side of the roadway.

Gonzales was arrested in a parking lot a short time later as a friend helped her transfer her belongings into another car, in an apparent attempt to cover up her responsibility for the crime. She was found in possession of methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia at the time of her arrest.

No word on why her friend wasn’t charged for assisting in the attempted coverup.

The victim’s family was reportedly in tears following the sentencing.

According to the source, the judge’s final words to her were “What a tragedy. Just because you wanted to do meth.”

Update: I corrected the above quote from the judge, which was off slightly due to a bad phone connection.

Gonzales will get credit for 888 days served, reducing her sentence by nearly two-and-a-half years; she’ll also serve three years parole upon her release.

Update 2: According to a press release from the Orange County DA’s office, Gonzales was found guilty of:

  • Felony vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence while intoxicated
  • Felony hit and run with death
  • Misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance
  • Misdemeanor use and under the influence of a controlled substance
  • Misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance paraphernalia
  • Along with a sentencing enhancement allegation for fleeing the scene of a vehicular manslaughter

Robinson’s family offered emotional impact statements, including this video from his mother showing him riding in happier days.

Then there’s this moving quote from his sister.

“My heart literally hurts when I think about my brother, I can’t think about him without crying. My drive to work takes me right past the accident site where his ghost bike is still hanging. Every morning and night as I pass that spot, I tell Joey aloud that I love him and cry.”

If you’ve ever wondered what harm driving under the influence can cause, that pretty much sums it up.

Thanks to Jeffrey Fylling for the press release.

Update 3: My News LA adds more details, including quotes from Robinson’s family members and his girlfriend. 

The story also quotes Gonzales’ attorney explaining that she had first tried marijuana at age 12, and quickly moved on to meth, which she had been her drug of choice ever since.

According to the attorney, she knew she had hit something, and stopped to see what it was, but continued on when she didn’t see Robinson or his bike. 

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